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The Doors of Stone Town


The Omanis ruled Zanzibar and the coastal cities of East Africa and it was during this time that spices were introduced for cultivation and the slave trade was established. Since the Omanis also had a presence on the African mainland, Ivory became a major trade item.

Because of all this trade, Arab merchants became wealthy and began to compete with each other in displays of status. It started with the size of the courtyard homes inside Stone Town and quickly moved to the size and embellishment of the doors that guarded the entrance to the homes. Today there are over 500 of these doors on display some in a better state of repair than others.

A stay on Zanzibar makes an ideal end to a safari in some of Tanzania’s game parks. Whether you choose to stay in the charming Serena Inn located on the harbor front or an elegant private villa on the beach at The Palms you should plan on spending some time both in Stone Town and in touring the island.

Much like Fez or Marrakesh, Stone Town is filled with alleyways, markets, mosques and the Arab mansions with the spectacular doors. On our programs you have a private guide who will introduce you to The Market where just about anything is bought and sold. Residents of the island come here to sell their goods and to shop for items not available to them in their local town.

Another worthy stop is Livingston’s house where David Livingstone and other missionaries stayed before crossing to the mainland to explore the continent. A large four storey building is called The Old Dispensary since it served that purpose during the British Administration. Unlike some other buildings it has already gone through a complete renovation and shows what Stone Town looked like at its peak.

In addition to lazing on the beach, snorkeling or scuba diving you should also take a tour of the spice plantations which are quite close to town. You will see how cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper are grown, harvested, dried and processed and how they are used in other areas beyond seasoning.

Travel to the north coast of the island and you arrive at the quiet village of Ras Nungwi where the ancient art of dhow building is still practiced. A perfect way to end your stay on Zanzibar is to charter a dhow and set sail at sunset cruising past Stone Town and its waterfront edifices.